OPINION: Nathan Phillips’ Attempt To Shut Down Mass Nothing Short Of Diabolical

Jon Schweppe Jon Schweppe is the Director of Policy and Government Affairs for American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe
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Just as it seemed we were settling into the waning phase of the Covington Catholic news cycle, a bombshell broke on Tuesday evening. The Catholic News Agency reported that Nathan Phillips, along with a group of approximately 20 demonstrators, attempted to force their way into the National Shrine Basilica in Washington, D.C. to shut down the Vigil Mass on Saturday evening while “playing drums and chanting.”

If that’s the case, can we drop the pretense that the attack on the Covington teens has been anything short of diabolical?

Phillips, the Omaha tribal elder who was all-but-canonized by secular progressives and media figures over the weekend for his “peaceful” confrontation with a group of Catholic students from Covington, Kentucky in Washington for the March for Life, led a raucous group of protestors in an effort to disrupt a Catholic Mass just 24 hours after the initial confrontation on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

A guard who was working security at the Shrine told Catholic News Agency that Basilica staff were forced to “lock the doors and everything” to prevent the “angry” protestors from succeeding in shutting down the Mass. “It’s a house of worship, a place of prayer where people come to celebrate,” a security guard told CNA News. “All this anger is so against what we are all about here.”

While progressives, journalists, celebrities and would-be “woke” conservative leaders were piling on the Covington Catholic kids for cheering, dancing, and smirking too much, the “hero” of the story — Nathan Phillips, the oh-so-wonderful Omaha tribal elder who could do no wrong — was setting religious tolerance and pluralism back centuries by attempting to deny hundreds of faithful Catholics their First Amendment right to freely exercise their faith.

Thank God he failed.

To say the least, this is an affront to our nation’s long history of cherishing the freedom of religion. America was founded upon the fundamental idea that all men have the right to worship their God freely, without interference. Phillips’ hateful stunt, perhaps channeling the anti-Christian id of the progressive movement, must be condemned forcefully as beyond the pale and out of bounds by both political leaders and media figures alike.

Otherwise, our nation’s polarization will reach a point of no return as anti-Christian activists across the country will be emboldened and begin descending on churches en masse, knowing that their protests will be seen by at least part of the country as justified and righteous. At that point, we’re looking at sectarian conflict unlike anything this country has seen in recent history.

A great deal of people gave Nathan Phillips the virtual equivalent of a bear-hug over the weekend, in large part because they hated the red-hatted pro-life kids he went out of his way to confront. It’s time for them to start walking that praise and adulation back. If the false accounts he provided to the media about his interaction with the Covington kids weren’t enough to convince, perhaps his would-be attempt to frighten and intimidate a church full of faithful Catholics will be.

This is a pivotal moment in our culture and in our politics. Progressives must be made to either defend Phillips’ actions or condemn them. An attack on any faith group in their house of worship — Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, et al — is completely reprehensible and anti-American. If progressives find a way to justify Nathan Phillips’ outrageous — even diabolical — attack on Catholics attending Mass, then we are done here. There’s nothing left for us to talk about.

Jon Schweppe (@JonSchweppe) is the director of government affairs at the American Principles Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to re-establishing human dignity as the basis for American society.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.